People in the know have been warning about it for at least five years but now the British Interactive Media Association has put a price on the digital skills shortage, claiming that it will cost the UK economy nearly half a billion pounds in the next two years.
The total turnover of the 117 companies which completed the BIMA survey was £1.36bn but an astonishing 95% of these reported that their growth was being held back by a shortage of available talent in the recruitment market.
This will result in a lost revenue opportunity across the BIMA membership alone (281 companies) of nearly £445m in the next two years.
Other key findings revealed that 75% said finding the right people is the biggest challenge facing their business. Roles most difficult to fill are those where candidates require coding skills (73%); analytical skills (37%); sales skills (31%) and visual arts skills (31%).
Some 93% of respondents also support the idea of a time-limited ‘Digital GCSE’ to help young people develop skills aligned to industry needs. This would be an interim solution until digital is fully embedded across the curriculum and would cover topics such as digital copy-writing, SEO and coding.
The results of the survey coincides with BIMA’s Digital Day 2015 which takes place today (Tuesday November 17). As part of this nationwide initiative some of the UK’s leading digital industry professionals are going into schools to give students an insight into life in the digital sector and advice on the jobs that exist within the digital economy.
Ogilvy & Mather Group UK’s vice chairman, Rory Sutherland, kicked off BIMA’s Digital Day at one of the participating schools in London. Visualise used its innovative live video streaming technology to create a ‘virtual event’ bringing Sutherland into all the other participating schools.
BIMA managing director Bridget Beale said: “The research highlights how much of a problem the digital skills gap has now become, with businesses unable to find the right people with the right skills for the digital roles they have available.
“The UK has established itself at the forefront of digital transformation and innovation yet we could see a huge missed opportunity to build on this unless we see more digitally skilled people entering the industry.
Sutherland added: “Steve Jobs always attributed everything he did to a 1-hour lecture on calligraphy in college. He seemed to believe that this course changed his entire life. When he became involved in computing, he asked the question ‘why does it all have to be so ugly?’ You should all learn to be as technologically able as you can – this will allow you to work in a huge range of businesses – all of them will value it.
“But if you’re going to be really good at tech, find something else to be good at as well. Had Steve Jobs been really good at computers but known nothing about calligraphy, the world would have been a much uglier place.”
Sutherland goes back to school for digital eulogy